Save The Oceans Essay

1029 words - 4 pages

In 2009, Sylvia Earle gave a presentation in a TED conference on a rising problem that the world faces: the ecologic depletion of the world’s oceans. The ocean accounts for a massive portion of the recycled carbon dioxide back into oxygen, and provides food for huge parts of humanity and for huge numbers of animals. I agree with her conclusions that the oceans are being depleted and this can only mean bad things for humanity, but I disagree with her solution. To solve the problem, Mrs. Earle claims that the United States and other countries should expand their protected zones of the ocean. However, an ocean is not like a land environment, where you can section off parts of America to save isolated habitats. Fish travel often travel and migrate hundreds of miles to find food and suitable mates, this is especially true the larger the fish is. Sectioning off parts of the ocean only solves part of the problem, because the fish in that area will simply swim out of the area and then be caught by fisherman. The only way to incorporate government protection into the oceans, is for the government to effectively own the oceans within its borders and then lease the rights to fish or put quotas on the number of fish that each fisherman can take out.
I find this solution of government protection rarely leads to the desired outcomes. In the American west and in large parts of Canada, forests are protected in much the same way as described above. Loggers are given leases that give the rights to cut trees in a given area. However, this leads to one of the most well known and discussed economic problems when property ownership is taken out of the equation: the tragedy of the commons. The tragedy of the commons is a problem where numerous actors in the economy are given the ability to use a resource, in this case a forrest, and none of them really own the resource. The problem is that all of the members have an incentive to take as many goods as possible out of the resource as fast as possible in order to keep the others from taking the resource before them, thus eliminating any possible profits. This is why many of the loggers in these leases cut down as many tress as they can before the lease runs out and do not bother to replant and trees because they will be giving capital to those who own the lease after them for free.
In contrast, consider a forrest that is only owned by only one business. Why is it that privatized forests are not just cut down wholesale? Why is it that copper and coal mines are not mined in total when they are found? Because the owners have realized that while they will increase their production in the short run if they adopt such a policy, the influx of wood into the market would also drive the price of wood down, reducing their profits. Plus, this business model would require the business to go through short periods of mass profit and then long periods of small losses...

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